From about 1950 (the completion of the “Managerial Revolution” as defined by Henry Luce [Time,Life,Fortune]) the elite was split into two parts: the Corporate Bureaucrats (or Corpocrats) represented by the Republican Party and the Government Bureaucrats (or Govercrats) represented by the Democratic Party. The Govercrats had obtained control during World Wars 1 and 2 and the Depression, and maintained it by the GI Bill, which turned a generation of potential laborers into bureaucrats. By 1970 they (now called Reagan Democrats) had identified with their bosses, and the Corpocrats took power untill 2008, when the Corpocrats had run the economy so poorly that it crashed.
The election of 2008 was won by Barack Hussein Obama, who, being a person of color, did not identify with either the Corpocrats or Govercrats but with the non-elite, who had been kept from upward mobility by both kinds of bureaucrats.
After the election of 2008 the Corpocrats were blamed by the non-elite for causing them to lose any money they had invested according to Corpocrat recomendations. They resented using any tax money to stabilize corporations, and the identification with the Republican (Corpocrat) Party dropped to 20%. Of that 20%. the professional politicians mainly continued to identify with the money-based values of the Corpocrats, while the non-elite Republicans mainly identified with the religious right. That was likely to cause a schism with the elite republicans identifying with the Govercrats and either switching allegiance to the Democratic Party or being expelled by the religious right.
In the meantime the Democratic party was having its own problems. Barack Hussein Obama. if you believe his inaugural address, was able to identify with the global non-elite, who are mostly people of color. He does not particularly identify with the Govercrats, who use the bureaucratic machinery to maintain their own status. The voice of the Govercrat wing are the self-identified “progressives” who identify with the managers of government-based infrastructures rather than their non-elite clients.
Barack Hussein Obama has considerable charm as well as charisma, so that he can visibly identify with the non-elite and, in turn, they can identify with him. There will, as a result, develop stresses between Obama’s emotion-based followers and the professional Govercrats that he needs to operate the infrastructure of government and economy. To the extent that Obama’s program is successful for the non-elite his charisma will keep that tension within limits; but he has to remember to trust his own judgement as to what it good for the non-elite, not the advice that he will get from professional Govercrats.
This is a situation of governance that has no precise analogy in the past. The closest equivalent was the election of 1948 when Harry Truman ran against three opponents: Thomas Dewey, the elite Republican Governor of New York; Henry Wallace, the left-wing Secretary of Agriculture under FDR who thought he represented the old Farmer-Labor Democratic coalition, but was being used by the far left, and the Dixiecrat candidate, Strom Thurmond, who was trying to protect official segregation.
Truman, who was able to identify with the voters, won; a result that was unexpected by the media elite. The Dixiecrats only intended to weaken the anti-segregation forces and won some southern states. The Progressives only made a good showing (8%) in New York State, and broke up into three fragments after the election.
How Obama’s situation will work out is not at all clear. The election of 2010 will show some of the tensions, but the real test will be the Presidential election of 2012, which may well resemble the election of 1948 in the number of candidates.